Cross-sector Collaboration in Data Science for Social Good: Opportunities, Challenges, and Open Questions Raised by Working with Academic Researchers

Paper by presented by Anissa Tanweer and Brittany Fiore-Gartland at the Data Science for Social Good Conference: “Recent years have seen growing support for attempts to solve complex social problems through the use of increasingly available, increasingly combinable, and increasingly computable digital data. Sometimes referred to as “data science for social good” (DSSG), these efforts are not concentrated in the hands of any one sector of society. Rather, we see DSSG emerging as an inherently multi-sector and collaborative phenomenon, with key participants hailing from governments, nonprofit organizations, technology companies, and institutions of higher education. Based on three years of participant observation in a university-hosted DSSG program, in this paper we highlight academic contributions to multi-sector DSSG collaborations, including expertise, labor, ethics, experimentation, and neutrality. After articulating both the opportunities and challenges that accompany those contributions, we pose some key open questions that demand attention from participants in DSSG programs and projects. Given the emergent nature of the DSSG phenomenon, it is our contention that how these questions come to be answered will have profound implications for the way society is organized and governed….(More)”.